If you aren't familiar with Perry Noble, he is the pastor of NewSpring the Megachurch that is based in Anderson, SC but has campuses all over South Carolina.
Many who know me know that I am not particularly a fan of neither Pastor Noble nor NewSpring. It has nothing to do with worship style, however I do feel that although secular music in itself in church is not bad, I was especially offended when I heard that they once played AC/DC's Highway to Hell at an Easter Sunday service. I understand where NewSpring is coming from -- they are trying to get the unchurched into church, and that is great. But, worship is for Him, not for us. I am simply not sure of the level of discipleship that takes place once they get them in the doors. I've heard various tidbits of 2nd hand info, and I have heard that NS is doing a better job with this than they have, perhaps, in the past. That being said, I have never posted publicly about NewSpring because (a) I have never been to a service, so I don't know what goes on first hand and (b) I tend to not do that sort of thing, and (c) I have friends that go there, and I don't want to intentionally or unintentionally offend someone by criticizing their church. I know that Pastor Noble shares the Gospel in his messages. I think he has the best of intentions with his ministry, and sincerely wants to spread the gospel. I'm not the type of person to go ragging on another church publicly, so I never have -- especially when all I have ever based my opinion on is 2nd hand info. However, several points in this post really bother me. I don't disagree with everything so I'm only going to tackle the three points I strongly take issue with.
In his 3rd point Pastor Noble states:
"It’s not a lack of prayer that is holding most churches back; it’s a lack of preparation. We need to prepare for messy people to actually show up and not ask them to leave because they do not have the appearance of perfection."I'm really not sure what he is trying to say here, because personally I don't see the connection between prayer and 'messy people'. I agree, that we need to prepare for and love people of all kinds. I have personally never been a part of any church that has asked someone to leave because they don't "have an appearance of perfection." I would love to know what Pastor Noble means here. I do feel very strongly that many churches (and individuals) do struggle with a lack of prayer. I also think that lot of prayer is prayed as though God were a genie in a bottle, ready to grant our every wish, when prayer should be about being in a relationship with God. We need more quality prayer in a bad way. Prayer works, and it is neglected far too much in our lives and at home -- we need to drive home in Church how important prayer is.
Regarding his 5th point:
"Seminary will become less and less relevant because most Christian educational institutions are focused on how to reach people in the 1970s."I don't know anyone who actually completed a seminary education that would say that. I can't imagine anyone who has had any seminary education saying that. I can't stress enough how strongly I disagree with this statement. It is not that I think that you can't teach the Word without a seminary degree, but it is so important to learn how to properly handle the Word, how to teach the Word, how to evangelize, how to disciple and be discipled, how to study, preach, teach, listen, learn, discipline yourself, manage time, manage finances... There are so many benefits of seminary this comment simply baffles me. Could our Seminaries be doing better? Of course. They are all constantly improving -- no organization is perfect. Also, perhaps Pastor Noble should visit some of these Seminaries, because I don't believe for one minute any of our SBC Seminaries are training people to reach people as they would in the 1970's. I strongly feel that this statement is made out of pure ignorance.
His 9th point is:
"Community is more important than reading the Bible. (The early church didn’t have the Bible for the first 300 years of Christianity…but they did have one another.)"Again, I have no clue where he came up with this. If the Church had no scripture for 300 years, what did they do? What did they teach? What kind of gospel did they spread? Did they sit around singing "Kumbaya"?
The early Christians had the Old Testament canon from the Jews and embraced that as Scripture from the beginning of the Christian church. The New Testament books, however were being written and disseminated at the same time as the church was being established. The books we have as the current New Testament were written between AD 49-95. Although the spread of Christianity was probably outrunning and outgrowing the the copying and dispersing of the NT, by the close of the 1st C, AD there was widespread acceptance of the 4 Gospels, Acts and Paul's letters. Some other letters (2,3 John, Hebrews, Revelation) took a little longer to be accepted in all regions. Finally, in AD 367, Athanasius provides us with a list of canonical books that conforms exactly to the 27 books we have in our New Testament today. By the end of the 4th C., Jerome had produced the Latin Vulgate with a NT that contained the same 27 books. Around the same time, Augustine writes clearly that these 27 books are canonical. While it did take some time for the Church to sort out the Biblical Canon, to say that the Church did not have the Bible for the first 300 years of Christianity is just plain wrong. Also it is very dangerous to say that reading the Bible is not important, or is in any way less important than just being together as a community. What about a community of atheists? They don't have the Bible...are they okay? I quite literally had to pick my jaw up off the ground when I read those words written by a pastor that thousands of people respect and look to for guidance. Pastor Noble, I urge you to clarify this. The Bible is how God speaks to us. Our people should be listening to the Bible, and only to us only for exposition of the Scriptures. If they view what we say as more important than what God says to us through his written word, WE HAVE FAILED our people! To say that anything is more important than the Bible is simply arrogant.
Please, always think about what you read from pastors. Just because someone is a pastor doesn't mean you should accept everything they say as gospel (unless they are quoting scripture). Always test everything against scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, 1 John 4).